It’s getting chilly here in Adelaide. The boots are out, the fire is on, and the credit card is heaving after booking numerous shows for Kate Ceberano’s 3rd and final stint as Artistic Director of the Adelaide Cabaret Festival.
Anyone who’s read my work on Aussie Theatre before knows that Cabaret Festival is my absolute favourite time of year. The Festival goes from strength to strength each season under fantastic leadership, creative vision and the excitement of cabaret stars famous and obscure coming together over two full weeks.
The true Cabaret Festival goer knows it’s a marathon, not a sprint and there is plenty to savour beyond the shows. So buckle in and put your seats in the upright position because we’re crash landing into this year’s festival and everyone will survive!
Planning to survive
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Planning is the foundation for a happy Cabaret Festival experience. While the spontaneous, last minute show choices are great to fill gaps and keep you amused, there is nothing worse than missing out on a hot ticket (trust me, I’ve already missed out on tickets to this year’s Gala and I’m devastated) or even just a convenient carpark.
Once again, the Adelaide Cabaret Festival app is available for your electronic planning needs. It’s a nifty app that is great to earmark all those shows you want to see while lining up the calendar, the stars and the sprint times between venues. It’s great to be in the 21st century and while the hard copy brochure is definitely pretty to paw over, the app makes life easier on the run. Last year there were also the odd offers and discounts pushed through the app so you might even save a few pennies!
Getting there in one piece
With the introduction of the footbridge and AFL at Adelaide Oval, planning with regards to travel is going to be even more important. Whether you’re walking, driving or public transporting, footy nights are going to be a nightmare – you have been warned! In particular be aware of June 7, 14 and 21. Consider a taxi, a really early arrival or teleportation because we know how jammed our little city gets nowadays when the footy is on (including oh-so-convenient road closures).
As always, you can pre-book your carpark through BASS at a pretty reasonable cost and on the non-footy times, the footbridge now makes it really easy to seek out a free park on Memorial Drive or anywhere else across the Torrens. Just allow heaps of time as we’d hate you to be late to any of the awesome shows on offer.
Lost on location
It’s almost impossible to lose your way during the Adelaide Cabaret Festival. Every show is located within the Centre precinct between King William Street and the Riverbank (except the State Theatre Company’s production of Little Bird with Paul Capsis; well worth the trek to Grote Street I think).
Now with the footbridge shortening the walk to the other side of the Torrens it’s even easier to get around and a more vibrant location than ever before – and if you’re a footy fan as well as a cabaret fan then you are in your own heaven with tickets for both!
The Festival Centre always has heaps of signage to find your way, but every savvy survivor of the Festival knows that the Banquet Room, Piano Bar and Festival Theatre are east towards King William Street and the Space, Artspace and Dunstan Playhouse are west towards the railway station; and remember you can easily dash from one end to the other in under 4 minutes if you’re wearing comfortable shoes and don’t get stuck behind some ambling, unprepared cabaret lovers.
Sustenance for survival
Other than the awesome choice of shows, which this year features even more acts and even more local artists combined with some of the world’s best, Cabaret Festival also puts on the food and drinks to bring the party to a cold winter’s night. The Winter Garden is back again, for I can’t remember how many years, is a hub of activity and excitement, yummy foods and bar for all tastes. Personally, I am looking forward to the grilled corn on the cob with parmesan and a wood oven pizza to warm me up.
You need your stamina for a multi-show night packed full of entertainment. Athough every night is busy, and the surrounding restaurants are packed, my tip is to squeeze your meal in between shows and stay within the Adelaide Festival Centre to really soak up the atmosphere and avoid fatigue early on. The Bistro by Foodbusiness is back after some refurbishments (downstairs at the Dunstan Playhouse) and they also do a great cocktail pre or post show.
My hot tip though this year is Little Italy just off the Piano Bar, which will have Trattoria style casual dining where all survivors can purchase a two course meal with a choice of pasta dish, garlic bread and house made Cassata dessert for just $25 – I mean, you can’t get that sort of price anywhere else and knowing the Cabaret Festival, when they say Little Italy, I’m guessing the atmosphere will be spot on!
Survival rewarded by magic moments
Finally, all survivors of the Cabaret Festival will have the moments they wish to forget (a friend dropping a full glass of red wine on me before venturing to two shows, for example) but every one who ventures to the Festival Centre this winter should be on the lookout for that magical festival moment that is not planned, is not scripted and will never happen again. These are the moments where you are aware of your surroundings, follow the action and take the resources available to you.
Last year’s moment for me was Paul McDermott and band giving their audience an extra 30 minute performance on the sidewalk at stage door because the next act had to bump into their venue. It was spontaneous, the crowd packed in to get close and it was a magical moment of fun, creative and exciting art – all part of the Adelaide Cabaret Festival.
So book for a show you would never usually think to see, hang around in a foyer or at a bar and chat, or grab a seat and watch the wonderful winter wonderland that is Cabaret Festival pass by. Find your magic moment this year… survivors left standing can rest in July.